August 21, 1920January 5, 2019


Barbara Warren Straw, 98, passed away at Hospice of Maine; Scarborough on January 5, 2019. She was born on August 21, 1920 to Percy McClellan and Jessie Merrill Warren in Portland, Maine. She spent her first two years in Dayton, Ohio where her father was at National Cash Register Headquarters. After returning to Portland he retained his position with NCR throughout the Great Depression. In later years she would recall riding with her Dad in his car loaded with groceries he had purchased to distribute to those who had lost their jobs in the greater Portland areas. Barbara's childhood was idyllic. Summers were spent at the cottages at Sebago Lake where she and her Warren cousins spent their vacations. She was athletic and was an expert swimmer and diver. She also had fond memories of visits to the family summer home, Eden Pines, overlooking Thatcher's Point Lighthouse on the rockbound coast of Rockport, Massachusetts. Winters were spent outdoors skating, tobogganing, and skiing. Barbara had a resourceful and independent spirit which she retained all her life. As a child she would travel alone by train to visit her Aunt Jean in New York City who lived a glamourous life on the 19th floor of Tudor City overlooking the East River. During the day Barbara would hop on the subway and travel all over the city alone. (It's in New York City she would meet her future husband (Clifton Dana Straw). He was a mechanical engineering student at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute). She had a lifelong connection with her aunt, and her last trip was to visit her in Palm Beach, Florida. Following her graduation from Deering High School in 1938, Barbara entered Westbrook Junior College (now part of the University of New England). There she made life-long friends and stayed active in the Westbrook College Alumnae Association. After her graduation from WJC she was recruited by and went to work for the President of Portland Buick Company. It wasn't long before he recognized her skills as a manager and made her his assistant. America and the world became engulfed in the War Years. The troops were on the march; she and Clifton were married on November 11, 1942 at 11:00 AM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he was stationed at the flight school. They then lived in Greensboro, NC and Nashville, TN until he got his orders. Barbara then returned to Portland where their daughter, Pamela, was born. He returned from Casablanca when she was two. Two years later, their son, Stephen was born. Barbara was active in community activities during her children's youth. She played an active role in the PTA and in the Warren Congregational Church where she taught Sunday school. After her divorce in the 1970s, she had the opportunity to use her exceptional managerial skills when she was hired by family friend, Dr. Raymond Lebel, to run his busy oral surgery office. Without previous medical experience she excelled at her job. At this same time, she managed the family rental properties at Sebago Lake and handled all her finances with expertise. She continued the rental business and prepared her taxes for her accountant to her final year. She kept meticulous records and was “always right to the penny". During this stage of her life, Barbara resumed skiing and loved to get to Sugarloaf. She took up golf when given a set of golf clubs by Dr. Lebel. A trip to Myrtle Beach with friends was talked about often. She was often asked to fill in at bridge at the Portland Country Club. Although she was not an avid player, she almost always came home with first prize! During her long life she was a member of the Woodfords Congregational Church, a subscriber to the Portland Stage Company, the Portland Concert Association, and the Portland Symphony Orchestra. A memorable experience was when she saw Ella Fitzgerald perform at Boston Symphony Hall as the guest of Bruce Hangen. She was an avid newspaper reader and loved crosswords. She loved a good book, especially politics and biographies, and she always stayed informed of current events. Born in 1920, just as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and women won the right to vote, she took her duty seriously. She researched the issues and the candidates so that hers was an "informed vote"! She voted in the midterm elections - just two months before she died. Barbara Warren Straw was predeceased by her sister, Paula Springer and is survived by her daughter, Pamela Straw of Westbrook; her son, Stephen Warren Straw and daughter-in-law, Karen Kinne Straw of Buxton. Donations may be made to: The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland; P.O Box 336; Portland, Maine 04098


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